Berry safe crop

The area saw widespread frost late Sunday night and early Monday, but experts say the local blueberry crop wasn't hurt. Other fruit crops did get a bit frosty, however.
Tribune Staff
May 14, 2013

Last year, frost damaged the state’s blueberry, cherry and apple crops. This year, West Michigan farms will see the effects of the frost, but not nearly as much as last year.

“There wasn’t as dramatic of a warm-up this year, so budding didn’t occur as early into the season as last year,” said Evan Webb, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

There was likely some damage to crops early Monday because temperatures dipped below 30, Webb said. The thermometer fell to 29 in Grand Rapids, 28 in Muskegon and 27 in Big Rapids.

“If the temperature gets below 28 for a couple of hours, there has to be some damage,” Webb said.

Temps in the Grand Haven and Holland areas didn't drop quite as low on Monday morning.

“It didn’t hurt us," said Ken Reenders, owner of Reenders Blueberry Farms in Grand Haven Township. "It never got below 30 degrees. It’s not so good walking-around weather, but it’s good crop weather.”

Reenders is expecting a nice crop of blueberries this year and will use irrigation to protect them against frost, if necessary.

Ottawa County grows about $230 million worth of crops each year. It is the No. 2 county in Michigan in blueberry production, behind Van Buren County.

"Our blueberries are very important," said Dave Reenders, owner of Crossroads Blueberry Farm.

He said the cold spring ensured the blooms weren't yet open. If they were open and white, last year's problem might have repeated itself.

The apple crop appears to also be intact.

"It's nothing compared to last year," said Roger Umlor from Centennial Fruits in Conklin. "There was some damage, but we're expecting to have three quarters to a full crop."

Up near Traverse City, cherry farms didn't completely escape the effects of the cold snap.

Nita Send, owner of a 28-acre farm in Leelanau County, said there was some damage, but it wasn't devastating.

When it comes to cherry crops, buds can be lost and trees will still produce a decent crop, she said.

"It wouldn't take much to be better than last year," Send said.

— By Riley Thyfault, Tribune intern

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